Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Walser, Robert. "Rhythm, Rhyme, and Rhetoric in the Music of Public Enemy." Ethnomusicology 39 (Spring-Summer 1995): 193-217.

Arguments levied against the parasitic nature of rap music can be refuted by using Walter Ong's studies of originality in oral culture, as well as the idea of "signifyin(g)" as discussed by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Dick Hebdige. While musical performance skills are not necessary, rap producers demonstrate virtuosity in the selection and positioning of samples. Extensive analysis of the groove (199-203), rhetorical strategies (203-207), and the rhythmic character (208-212) of Public Enemy?s Fight the Power includes transcriptions of several sections of the track. The groove comprises a sample from Trouble Funk, a combination of drum patterns sampled from songs by Sly Stone, Funkadelic, and the Jacksons, and new rhythms created with a drum machine. The polyrhythmic and repetitive character of Fight the Power makes it comparable with West African musical traditions and values.

Works: Public Enemy: Fight the Power (198-207).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Amanda Sewell

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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